This kid looks exciting...

Man Utd are in hot pursuit of the Slovakian Lamine Yamal who’s already hanging with the stars

While football’s motto has long been ‘if you’re good enough, you’re old enough’, some young ballers are beginning to stretch that saying to its very limit and it’s rather sickening.

The average age of young stars breaking into the game is dropping rapidly, with talent shining brighter than ever and clubs desperate to find the next Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to secure a generation of success.

What clubs aren’t considering in doing so, however, is welfare. Player welfare? Yeah sure, whatever, that’s important we guess.

We’re on about our welfare. Ordinary folk. Your average football fanatic who is now well beyond the age of being considered a young prospect, would probably be approaching their peak years and is instead pulling out of six-a-side due to back pain and poor fitness.

Seeing teenagers live the dream we all pretend to live in our heads at least twice a day is nauseating, but it’s also incredibly fulfilling.

It’s a testament to how far the beautiful game has come and the fact that talents are being given a stage to thrive on without any ceilings to break through is a genuine joy.

You also can’t blame clubs around the world for chasing the dragon that is a young baller when Lamine Yamal is quite literally combining household chores and schoolwork with skinning defenders and creating chances for fun for one of the most storied national teams in the world at the European Championship at just 16 years old.

Seriously, that kid is a joke.

He’s not the only one with that potential, though, and is merely the man to have opened the door for a new chapter.

A chapter that Manchester United could well be trying to write themselves with their pursuit of Samuel Lusale; a 16-year-old Slovakian winger who is already proving more thrilling than a joyride around the Nurburgring.

Born in 2007 – after the release of the iPhone, the PlayStation 3 and Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’ – Lusale has been plying his trade at Crystal Palace for the last three years since he was just 13 and has very quickly earned a reputation as one of the most electrifying players in his age group and beyond.

So much so, that he’s already signed with super agency Rocnation, who are responsible for some of the planet’s most successful athletes.

Enough of the boring agency stuff, though. You want to know why United are head over heels for the lad who might well be the next Yamal.

Operating primarily from the left flank unlike the Spaniard, Lusale shares parallels in that he’s menacing when dribbling and running at defenders with the ball, desperate to showcase his unrelenting flair.

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What also stands out are his impressive physical traits despite being 16, crucially his willingness to do the defensive dirty work and help out his full-back.

In an era of pass, pass, pass until you’re blue in the face, watching a player as genuinely press-resistant as Lusale who also glides through the tightest of gaps in a defence is a genuine breath of fresh air.

There are obvious limitations to his current arsenal of skills, but at 16, he’s just getting started and it’s easy to see how his current traits such as his flair, ball-carrying and pace would cause a problem for any tired full-back, from under-18 right through to senior level.

A goal and an assist for Slovakia at the under-17 European Championship is a further showcase of his pedigree at an international level and an exciting glimpse into what Lusale can do when the stakes are raised.

Age is but a number when you’ve got an addiction to zapping defenders and a pair of feet silkier than Aladdin’s magic carpet.

Lusale’s transfer to United is yet to be confirmed, but in a new era for the club headed up by INEOS and now orchestrated by Dan Ashworth, he feels like the blueprint signing and could end up being the poster boy for their youth teams – and perhaps beyond – in 2024-25.

By Mitch Wilks